Sunday 2 October 2016

Jeep Cargo Shelf

Each time I take the Jeep out on a trip requiring me to pack a fair amount of gear I feel myself desire improvement to the organization and storage solutions.  I think this is one of the aspects of constant improvement any Jeeper or overlander will strive for.   Its not that I found myself not being able to carry very much, instead its how do I stay organized throughout the duration of the trip as the Jeep is packed an unpacked repeatedly.

A partial answer to this for me was for the addition of a shelf in the rear of the Jeeps cargo area.  The main reason for this is so that I can have a cooler always accessible, with nothing (or very little) stacked on it preventing its removal.  Also splitting up the rear in this way would allow me to keep my camera gear, clothing, and other lighter weight stuff within easy reach and out of harms way.  I also frequently pack firewood and other messy things in my Jeep so this helps keep things clean.

Designing the concept in my head I had some pretty lofty expectations.  I wanted it to be:

  • Height adjustable
  • Safe
  • Pivot out of the way for easy access to the back
  • Sturdy for rattle free operation 
  • Light weight 
I spent many evenings designing the shelf in my head before starting to build.  During this time I struggled to find way of accomplishing what I wanted without adding exponentially more complexity.  In the end I decided that to build a basic shelf would be far less work that building one that could meet all my original expectations.  I figured that it would be best to start simple, use it, and then take my time to incorporate any enhancements that I found I need in a future version. 

I started off by building a frame that would hold a piece of carpeted plywood.  The fixed height this one would be built to would roughly line up with the seam across the back of the rear seats.  I built it as wide as I could leaving about 1 inch on either side between the sport bars to accommodate my bracketry.  I quickly tacked together this piece in one evening but would have it sit like this for about a month as I procrastinated designing the mounts. 

The rack mounts similar to others on the market, where it utilizes the same bolt holes as the softtop. It was then quite a chore to measure and mock up how the remainder should look.  My final solution was somewhat of an 'L' with one bar running parallel to the sport bar, and another running perpendicular. At the end of each of these arms was simply a welded piece of Angle iron that the base of the rack would lay on and which a 1/4-20 bolt would run through. 

As it was all finally coming together I added some gusset, and tabs to the base to allow me to bolt some D rings through.  I felt like these features would give me a fighting chance at a safe solution in the event of an accident. 

Once it was all complete and assembled another post online about above head storage in the back seat inspired me to go in search of cargo netting that fit quite nicely and will also help secure gear (Not pictured).

So far I have been very happy with the rack, it has been practical and rattle free.

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